Sarcelles, July 20, 2014
The city of Sarcelles (department of Val d'Oise) was the scene of rioting and considerable property damage on Sunday July 20, the day after the violence in the Barbès sector of Paris. The prefect of Val d'Oise, Jean-Luc Névache, banned the Sarcelles demonstration in light of what had happened the day before, but as before, the demonstrators ignored the orders.
An article from Le Figaro stresses the multicultural nature of Sarcelles in which Jews from North Africa, Blacks from Ivory Coast, Chaldeans (along with Turks) and North African Muslims live side by side. The article, a tear-jerker, points out that they all were born in the same hospital and they all went to school together. The merchants whose property was destroyed cannot understand how such a thing could happen, the basic reaction being one of incredulity and shock. I suspect that some of these people, especially the Jews, are not that naive:
(…) All young people up to those who are today twenty-five years old went to the same schools. Today's ethnic separatism involves the youngest ones, those who took part in the riots on Sunday.
Laurent Berros, the rabbi of Sarcelles, is tired. It was a long night, putting things back in order. On the wall behind him this inscription: "Language is like a double-edged sword. It can appease, educate, love and create love, but it can also irritate, deaden and destroy". Last week he was informed of a peaceful demonstration in support of the Palestinian people. But the inhabitants found as early as Wednesday that the bus stops of Garges (near Sarcelles) were covered with tracts that read: "Palestine: come equipped, mortar, extinguishers, bats, on Sunday July 20. Come out in force: raid the Jewish quarter of Sarcelles". On Friday the prefect decided to ban the rally. Saturday's rioting (in Paris) justified him.
Some older Jewish residents knew things would deteriorate and stayed indoors. The rabbi asked the young security agents to be there on Sunday: Betar, the JDL and the protection services of the Jewish community. By 1:00 p.m. the atmosphere was electric. Cars raced by with the windows down as the passengers shouted :"We'll turn you into blood and fire." What struck the inhabitants of Sarcelles was the strong presence of Turks. "It was the first time I've seen demonstrators with Turkish flags saying "Death to the Jews", said François Pupponi, Socialist mayor of the city and deputy in the National Assembly.
The article goes on to describe the large number of demonstrators who showed up - five hundred according to the rabbi. The Jewish protectors began to sing the Marseillaise to show their support for the riot police. The rabbi said:
"We are not only attacked because we are Jewish but also because we are French."
One member of CRIF (an umbrella organization for numerous Jewish associations) felt that "when you attack the police headquarters of Garges, it is not the Jews who are targeted it is everything that represents the Republic. We have gone beyond the stage of antisemitism. When a trolley station, a phone booth, an employment agency are targets, what does that have to do with Israel?"
Note: Considering how pro-immigration and pro-assimilation CRIF has been in the past, these words are welcome. But it may not represent the point of view of the CRIF leadership, that has always curried favor with the government, Socialist or otherwise. Years ago, CRIF went so far as to encourage "métissage" (racial mixing) in its fawning to government policy. When Israel is in danger, though, CRIF reverts to a pro-Israel nationalism and discredits itself completely. So far as I know, CRIF has never espoused a traditionalist pro-France position, and not surprisingly it regards the Front National as the only real danger.
The pharmacy in the large business district of les Flanades was completely burnt on Sunday. Renée Banon, a small Jewish woman who has run the pharmacy for forty-two years was traumatized as images of the ruined pharmacy passed on the television screen. "Why did they do that to me?" she asked.
The article concludes with sympathy for the multicultural city of Sarcelles where the various groups have lived for a long time and rarely leave.
Note: Sarcelles is in the northern suburbs of Paris, not far from two other cities that have known severe violence in recent years: Villiers-le-Bel and Stains. There are five synagogues for its large Jewish population, two mosques, a Coptic church, one Protestant and one Evangelical church, and two Catholic churches. Dominique Strauss-Kahn is closely associated with Sarcelles and for a time was its mayor (1995-1997). The population jumped from 8,397 in 1954 to 35,000 in 1962, when the Algerian war ended. In 2011 it was 58,398. (Wikpedia)
Below, a nine-minute video showing scenes of destruction. Most of the video is devoted to the prefect of Val-d'Oise Jean-Luc Névache who explains that the disturbance lasted about fifteen minutes, that the organizers attempted to obey the ban but two hundred young persons showed up (note the discrepancy with the rabbi's figure of five hundred), not to demonstrate but to destroy. They were very mobile, in small groups and violent. Most of the damage done was to public property and to Jewish businesses. (Note: This includes the Naouri kosher supermarket, that had been attacked two years ago.) He acknowledges that the synagogues of Sarcelles were attacked with Molotov cocktails, that three policemen were slightly injured, while a ninety-one year old person who lives above the pharmacy that was burnt suffered smoke inhalation but is not in danger. He stresses that there was no confrontation between Jews and pro-Palestinians, something that has to be avoided at all costs. He points out that there were other demonstrations in Val-d'Oise that did not pose any threat and were authorized, but that the one in Sarcelles, by reason of the large Jewish population, was banned.